Mass. Dem's Bill Would Make It Illegal To Call Someone 'Bitch'

Repeat offenders could face six months' imprisonment

Massachusetts State House / Twitter
October 22, 2019

A Massachusetts Democrat is pushing a bill that would make it a crime to maliciously call someone a "bitch" within the commonwealth.

Foul-mouthed individuals who are found guilty under a bill introduced by Democratic representative Daniel J. Hunt would face a $150 maximum fine for the first offense, while repeat offenders would face up to six months' imprisonment, a $200 fine, or both. If enacted, "bitch" would be the only word in the English language to receive such special consideration in Massachusetts.

Hunt introduced "An Act regarding the use of offensive words" in May. The proposed law would specify that the use of the word "bitch" satisfied the "offensive and disorderly acts or language" requirement in existing disorderly conduct law.

"A person who uses the word 'bitch' directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person," the bill says. "A violation of this subsection may be reported by the person to whom the offensive language was directed at or by any witness to such incident."

Hunt told the Boston Herald that he filed the bill after being asked to do so by a constituent. "Any time a constituent approaches me with something that is of concern to them, I follow through with it," he said. "In this instance, someone asked me to file a bill that they deemed was important and I thought it was a good exercise to let that bill go through the process."

While critics charge that the bill likely violates the First Amendment, Hunt told the Herald that even if it does, his bill could "illuminate the exhaustive legislative process for people that might not normally be engaged."

The Massachusetts Republican Party mocked their counterparts for the bill. "Beacon Hill Democrats like [Dan Hunt] are fearlessly taking on the biggest problems facing the commonwealth," the state GOP said on Twitter, asking followers to attend the Judiciary Committee hearing if they "believe free speech matters."

The legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Tuesday afternoon.